NBA draft night is Thursday, though within the case of the Clippers it has historically been more precise to explain it as something else.
Each draft since 2015 has involved not less than one Clippers transaction, from buying their way into the second round with money, to swapping first-round picks, trading a future first-round pick to maneuver up, or shipping out established veterans for skilled rotation players. In 2020, a three-team deal netted them Luke Kennard, last 12 months’s most accurate three-point shooter. In 2021, they swung three trades to grab Brandon Boston Jr., Keon Johnson and Jason Preston.
The methods change, as do the front-office decision-makers, however the moves haven’t.
This 12 months may very well be the exception.
The Clippers don’t possess a first-round pick; Oklahoma City controls the team’s selection due to the 2019 trade to amass Paul George. What they do have is the forty third overall pick, and league observers have described the team as uninterested to trade out of the draft altogether, while also not appearing driven — for the time being, anyway — to maneuver up.
In the event that they keep their forty third overall pick, the Clippers might be adding a player to an already deep roster with expectations to compete for the franchise’s first NBA Finals appearance next spring. The vast majority of next season’s minutes for the prospect may very well be within the G League.
The Clippers’ roster is already loaded with wings, and combined with the assumption the Clippers are pursuing a veteran point guard this offseason, and some extent guard draft class described as not particularly deep, some league observers imagine the Clippers could find yourself with a forward or center.
Unlike other teams, the Clippers don’t announce which players they’ve hosted at their facility for predraft workouts. Still, those confirmed to have worked out in front of the team’s brass reflect a large spectrum of positions and skill sets.
Guards included 6-foot-5 Javante McCoy of Boston, who worked out twice, 6-5 Jalen Williams of Santa Clara, 6-3 Collin Gillespie of Villanova, 6-3 Alonzo Verge Jr. of Nebraska, 6-4 Izaiah Brockington of Iowa State, 6-5 Dereon Seabron of North Carolina State, 6-5 Taze Moore of Houston and 6-4 Lucas Williamson of Loyola Chicago.
Wings and forwards have included former Chino Hills High star Eli Scott of Loyola Marymount, 6-7 Christian Braun of NCAA champion Kansas, 6-8 Gui Santos from Brazil, 6-7 Darius Days of Louisiana State, 6-6 Buddy Boeheim of Syracuse and 6-6 Jared Rhoden of Seton Hall.
Kansas forward Christian Braun participates in a drill on the NBA draft mix.
(Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press)
Big men have also been a spotlight, from 7-2 Aleksander Balcerowski of Poland, 7-2 Kai Sotto of the Philippines, 6-9 Keve Aluma of Virginia Tech — certainly one of Aluma’s 15 predraft workouts across the NBA — and 6-10 Terrell Brown-Soares of San Diego, who was also said to work out twice. Brown-Soares is a product of the Boston Amateur Basketball Club, which was founded by Clippers scout Leo Papile and in addition counts Clippers wing Terance Mann amongst its alumni.
Once the draft concludes Thursday, the team will quickly turn its attention to filling out the roster that may play on the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas, with games July 9, 12, 13 and 15. By June 29, the team must determine whether to exercise its $7.5-million option next season on starting center Ivica Zubac, and whether to make Amir Coffey, Jay Scrubb and Xavier Moon restricted free agents by extending them one-year qualifying offers.
Forward Nicolas Batum is anticipated to say no his player option for next season price $3.3 million, making him an unrestricted free agent, a move that might allow Batum to secure a bigger contract since the team has the forward’s early Bird rights. Publicly he has indicated a powerful desire to stay with the Clippers on a recent contract.
In May, in a translated appearance on French media, Batum said that coach Tyronn Lue had “saved my life” for helping rejuvenate his profession at its low point, after a career-worst 12 months led Charlotte to waive him.
“I’m sticking with Tyronn Lue until he desires to eliminate me,” Batum said. When the interviewer suggested the matter of his free agency was settled, Batum responded, “totally.”